Council Fellows

June 17, 2024

Council Fellows Alumni Spotlight: Morgan Wills, Class of 2016, Associate Dean, Belmont University


In our vibrant community at the Nashville Health Care Council, we are privileged to have a diverse array of healthcare leaders at every stage of their careers. As the healthcare landscape continues to evolve and expand, so does our Council membership. One of the ways we nurture and cultivate the healthcare talent pipeline is through our esteemed Council Fellows program. This program serves as a platform for engaging and enlightening conversations in healthcare. Our Council Fellows community plays a pivotal role in sharing their valuable experiences and showcasing their accomplishments, offering invaluable insights and success stories to benefit the entire Nashville Health Care Community.

Meet Council Fellow Alumni Morgan Wills

Morgan Wills, MD, MATS, FACP is the past President and CEO of Siloam Health and currently serves as Associate Professor of Internal Medicine at the Thomas F. Frist, Jr. College of Medicine at Belmont University. As the College’s Associate Dean for Clinical and Community Engagement, he is responsible for cultivating the clinical affiliate faculty and other organizational partners who will help the new institution to fulfill its vision of shaping medicine through transformative whole-person care.

What inspired you to enter healthcare? Tell us about your career journey.

I was a late bloomer on the path to a medical career. A former history major whose only undergraduate science class was “Physics for Poets,” I stumbled upon a calling into health care and crosscultural service while backpacking around the world after college and volunteering at a medical mission hospital in Ghana, West Africa. Upon my return to Nashville a year later, I was blessed to meet incredible mentors like Dr. Anderson Spickard, Jr., whose outside-the-box blend of robust faith, clinical excellence, and community mindset inspired me to become not just a physician, but a healer. Two other mentors, Drs. David Gregory and Brevard Haynes, recruited me to serve Nashville’s uninsured and culturally marginalized in a small organization now known as Siloam Health. Over the 22 years I served there, I was profoundly impacted by the deep humanity of refugee and immigrant patients from over 100 different homelands who now proudly help “It City” hum, even as some forces in our country have demonized them. Sen. Bill Frist has often described “health care as a currency for peace” in international contexts, but that principle resonates with my own experience building bridges through health care right here in Nashville as well.

What are you currently focused on?

When former Belmont President Bob Fisher announced the creation of the Thomas F. Frist, Jr. College of Medicine 3 years ago, I was immediately intrigued. One of Siloam’s core values is to Multiply the Mission—that is, to inspire, equip, and empower others, especially students, to fulfill our faith-inspired mission of service through health care in other contexts. Soon an advisory role led to a consulting role which—after firming up a great succession plan at Siloam—eventually led to a full-time role at Belmont. And in true “full circle” fashion, I am now serving alongside my former Vanderbilt colleague, Dean Anderson Spickard, III, who is the son of my first medical mentor! Together with an entrepreneurially minded team of faculty and staff we are building the first new medical school in Nashville in well over a century. After receiving preliminary accreditation last Fall, I am currently laser focused on final preparations for the arrival of our inaugural class of 50 students this August, as well as the ongoing work of community faculty recruitment for the more clinical phases of the curriculum that will begin in 2026.

What challenge do you most want to solve in healthcare?

Raising up a new generation of healers—not just for patients, but for our broken healthcare system. Modern medicine is a juggernaut. The degree of knowledge and skill required to learn, navigate, and practice it is immense—and growing exponentially. We can no longer afford to equip future doctors for this herculean task as we used to. The physicians of tomorrow will need to be master adaptive learners, tech-savvy problem solvers, wise team leaders, and multi-modal communicators. This will not be news to the Fellows Community. But what is novel about our project at Belmont is the approach we are taking towards this challenge, envisioning medical education as less fundamentally about procurement of technical skills (as important as they are) than about personal and community formation. We believe that the most resilient, excellent, and creative physician leaders of tomorrow will be those who pursue excellence as an extension of personal character development and the pursuit of flourishing for the broader community. This holistic orientation is woven into our curriculum, our community spaces, and our co-curricular distinctives. It’s also one reason we’re proud to be creating one of the first departments in the country dedicated entirely to Health Systems Science.

How did the Council Fellows program influence your life or career?

The Fellows program came along at a great time for me personally and professionally. As the relatively “green” physician-CEO of a modest sized health care nonprofit, it served as a vital education about the broader ecosystem of healthcare, not just in Nashville but across the country. I loved the opportunity to engage in dialogue with diverse leaders from across the professional spectrum—public and private, payers and providers, clinicians and administrators, establishment players and startup disruptors. The fact that it is composed of leaders from otherwise competing institutions is also a refreshing model in our increasingly polarized culture. The vivid reminder it presents that we are all a part of something much bigger than ourselves influenced both my leadership of Siloam as well as my later decision to join the “startup” educational enterprise at Belmont. And of course, I have made good and lasting friends through the Fellows, both in my own class and in the broader alumni community.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

I don’t know if it was exactly “advice,” but my friend and mentor Dr. Bill Pearson challenged me with a particularly impactful question early in my career: “Why do something many others are willing and able to do when you may be the only one willing and able to do one thing?” As a young physician-in-training who felt the lure of the professional conveyor belt, those words haunted me! But, combined with the example of his own life, they also gave me the courage to zig when others zagged. And the countercultural decisions that followed—to choose the most humble imaginable job coming out of residency, to later step away for a year from that work to study Marketplace Theology in Canada, to say “yes” to becoming a CEO despite my utter lack of preparation for the role, and now to help launch a new medical school (to name just a few)—have been incredibly rewarding.

What are the most critical changes the industry needs to make to face the future effectively?

Wow. So, so many are addressed in the course of the Fellows program each year. But based on my experience if I could pick a few, it would involve finding a way to uncouple health insurance from employment, open up a basic level of minimum health insurance coverage for all, and find a way to unleash the power of markets to address the underlying social determinants of health rather than just tinker around the edges of the existing, broken health care “system.”

How have you built confidence and/or resiliency over the course of your career?

Confidence is like a muscle that grows through regular use. I am grateful for the community of mentors who created such training opportunities for me at Vanderbilt, the incredible leaders at Siloam health who incrementally entrusted with leadership opportunities in that organization, and the broader community of faith, both at home and abroad, who have helped to keep me humble, hopeful, and grounded in God’s love and grace. As the African proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Tell us something about yourself that isn’t on your resume.

Though a longtime Nashville native (9th generation, to be exact), I am actually an explorer at heart. I have visited, lived, or served in over 50 countries. As a result, one of my favorite ways to procrastinate is to plan the next trip, and I have a semi-addictive relationship with TripAdvisor! One of the creative ways I found to deal with this inner conflict was to marry my wife Heather, a Canadian. Now, even when my passport is unused and I am no longer working regularly at Siloam, there is always something crosscultural for me to learn here at home.

About Council Fellows

Building on Nashville’s legacy as the Healthcare City, the Council Fellows program connects the healthcare industry’s brightest minds, most influential leaders and top drivers of change. Each year, the highly competitive program convenes a cohort of 30 top executive leaders for a curriculum specifically designed to build new perspectives and generate new ideas for addressing the industry’s most pressing challenges. This prestigious cohort-based program is shaping the future of healthcare.

Applications for Council Fellows open in the fall and a new class is seated in December for the following year’s cohort. If you’re interested in learning more about the Council Fellows program, sign up here to receive ongoing updates. For more information, contact

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